Vanguard: Saga of Heroes Interview
KeyWord: Vanguard,interview Date: 11-27-2006
Summary: Interview with Darrin McPherson,Senior Game Designer of Sigil Games, he told me some advanced info about the abilities and skills of the game

Vanguard: Saga of Heroes will be the premier third generation massively multiplayer RPG. A vast, seamless, immersive virtual world filled with elements of familiar High Fantasy, including traditional themes and more, all depicted using cutting-edge graphics technology. Sigil s expertise and experience in the field will bring groundbreaking static and dynamic content to the genre. Vanguard will build upon the successes and strengths of earlier MMOGs to improve popular game mechanics and features, but also address these pioneering games mistakes and deficiencies. Vanguard will focus heavily on interdependence, challenge, and reward, while simultaneously addressing tedious and annoying issues, including camping, excessive downtime and more.

Recently, MMOsite had a talk with Darrin McPherson,Senior Game Designer of Sigil Games, he brought me some advanced info about the abilities and skills of the game. First, would you please tell us who you are and what you re working on for Vanguard now?

Darrin McPherson: My name is Darrin McPherson and work on classes, combat and adventuring systems. How do you come up with so many abilities/spells? Have any other games or works influenced your work?

Darrin McPherson: Good question.  We have a lot of influences.  Games we have played, books we have read, movies we have seen.  It is not any one source, but more a collection of them.  It is not easy and we often feel pretty thinly stretched.  It is not because we run out of ideas, it is much more that we run out of new things to do within our limits.  A good example of what I am talking about can be had by comparing a video game to a pen and paper game.  Pen and Paper designers are not constrained by things like Interface, Animations, NPC assets, Sound and Particle Effects.  Our limitations are very real and it can be tough to do something new time and time again using the same building blocks.  The challenge is fun though! Concerning abilities, the official website states that: "Some will be usable throughout combat, some will have to be prepared and are usable only a finite number of times per combat." I am curious about the second portion, the "finite amount of times per combat". Can you give us any more information about this?

Darrin McPherson: Some abilities are limited in their use, either by long refresh timers or special expendable pools.  Players are encouraged to only use some abilities when they are in sore need of their effects.  Your standard fireball spell can be used whenever, but we only allow you to use Meteor Storm once every so often.  This allows us to make Meteor Storm much more powerful than your typical spell. How do you balance abilities and spells?

Darrin McPherson: We have methods and conventions setup that allow us to determine the health and power of an NPC at a given level and we make abilities around that.  This ensures some lvel of balance, but it is not the healing and damage spells that really cause worry from a balance standpoint.  The real problem-children are the random abilities that we put in.  They may seem innocuous when you first create them, but some creative player will find a way to make content trivial by using it.  These are balanced through pain, frustration and time. What is the difference between skills and abilities? How do they relate to each other?

Darrin McPherson: Abilities are player button presses.  Nukes, heals, buffs, debuff are all abilities.  Skills are a measure of your character s competence at something.  Having a high 2-hand sword skill will allow you to be more accurate when using that weapon type than if you had low skill.

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